Stir Fry Your Leftover Pasta For A Satisfyingly Crispy Texture

There is nothing quite like a plate of fried noodles and their crispy, chewy texture that makes the perfect bed for a range of dishes. Asian noodles like egg noodles or lo mein are often used for stir-fry, but leftover pasta can be a great substitute. Long noodles such as spaghetti and linguini already resemble lo mein when cooked, but shorter varieties such as penne would work as well. As long as whatever type you choose is cooked al dente or firmer, you'll have a fantastic noodle substitute on your hands. 

Since the pasta will be in direct contact with hot oil, it will brown and its texture will become crispy and chewy, which mimics the look and texture of traditional Chinese fried noodle dishes. And, stir-fried pasta can be paired with really any ingredients to suit every taste, making it a fantastic way to use up leftovers in a creative way.

Leftover pasta dries out, allowing it to absorb oils

Just like day-old rice is the best option for making fried rice, plain leftover pasta creates ideal fried noodles, and much for the same reasons. Because it's been dried a bit in the fridge, leftover pasta develops a tougher exterior that allows it to better absorb oil and seasonings. Furthermore, just like what happens when drying off meat and seafood before frying, leftover pasta's stiff exterior will develop a crispier and more textually satisfying crunch that complements toppings very well. 

To create basic stir-fried pasta, just heat up a pan with a small amount of neutral oil. Add some aromatics — onions, shallots, garlic, or ginger all work well — and fry briefly. Retrieve your leftover pasta from the fridge and add it to the same pan, stirring constantly and vigorously to break apart pieces that are stuck together and to coat them evenly with oil (you will hear the pan sizzle as the hot oil fries the exterior of the pasta).

Once everything is well coated with oil, spread the noodles evenly in the pan to maximize the pasta's contact area with heat. Stir occasionally, checking until the pasta is toasted to a light golden brown color; when it does reach that shade, flip the noodles to prevent burning. Once the desired crunch and texture have been achieved, you're ready to plate your dish and add veggies, proteins, and spices for a well-rounded meal.

What to add to stir-fried pasta to make it a tasty meal

While stir-fried pasta is delicious on its own, you could season it with hot sauce and top with a sunny-side egg for a traditional Asian-style dish. Adding sesame oil will also give noodles an Asian flavor, which can be built on by tossing with light and dark soy sauce for an alternative to classic lo mein. 

There is virtually no limit to what you can add to the noodles. For example, cooked proteins such as chicken or steak can be sliced and tossed into the pasta at the last minute, just to heat them through. Any kind of vegetables are welcome too, as long as they are cut into bite-sized portions. 

Another way to enjoy leftover pasta is to deep-fry it at home for crunchy crisps. This method works best with short pasta such as farfalle. To do so, pat the leftover portion with paper towels to dry and prevent splatter, and separate pieces that are stuck together. Then, fry in oil at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until crispy, and dust the piping hot crunchy noodles with your favorite seasoning for another unique take.